The Europa League returns this week with the second legs matches for the round of 16. Steven Gerrard’s Rangers will have their work cut out for them on Thursday night in Germany. The Glasgow giants lost the first leg 3-1 at Ibrox but that game feels like ages ago. The first leg was played on March 12th and now nearly six months later, the second leg will be played and it could help Rangers get an unlikely win versus Bayer Leverkusen.
Rangers kicked off their 2020-21 Scottish Premiership season over the weekend defeating Aberdeen 1-0 in a game they absolutely dominated. Although Rangers only scored the one goal through Ryan Kent, they were never in trouble. On Thursday night, they will be under caution more versus Bayer Leverkusen, but the start of the new Scottish Premiership season last weekend could be a coup for the Glaswegians.
Bayer Leverkusen ended the Bundesliga season in June and have had a layoff since then. The Company XI put together a strong second half of the season, but did blow hot and cold post-restart. The club posted a record of 5W-1D-3L over the course of their last nine games resulting in a fifth-place finish. Peter Bosz’s team also lost the German Cup Final to Bayern Munich.
Can Bayer Leverkusen hold on or will Gerrard’s boys make an epic comeback?
The first leg between the clubs saw Rangers holding on for much of the match. Bayer Leverkusen wonderkid Kai Havertz scored from the penalty spot in the 37th minute. Charles Aranguiz added a second goal in the 67th minute. Rangers did get on the scoresheet eight minutes later thanks to a strike from Samuel Edmundson. The danger could have been placed in the heart by Bayer Leverkusen just two minutes from time when Leon Bailey scored to make the match 3-1.
The first leg was notable for seven yellow cards being handed out by referee Szymon Marciniak. The second leg is sure to be hard fought between the two clubs with the quarterfinals on the horizon. Rangers need three goals, however, to overturn the deficit as Bayer Leverkusen scored three away strikes. Simply making it 3-3 on aggregate doesn’t change things for the Glasgow club.
The club that ends the tie victorious will take on the winner of the Inter Milan versus Getafe fixture on Wednesday night. The first leg between Inter Milan and Getafe was cancelled due to Covid-19. Wednesday night’s game will be the only match the two clubs will play.
Bosz’s team will certainly benefit from their three goals from the first leg. The three strikes from the first leg could be what sees them into the quarterfinals due to being off for the last month. Bosz could sit some of his big-named stars such as Havertz to preserve them or work them in slowly after the layoff. Havertz is linked with a transfer to Chelsea which could see him left on the bench for the game.
There is no doubt that Aberdeen made life too easy for Rangers last weekend in the Scottish Premiership. The match felt like a training match with Rangers constantly attacking a beleaguered Aberdeen. Rangers tallied 61% of the possession and 15 shots.
Although Gerrard’s team dominated, Thursday night’s game will resemble the first leg match. Rangers tallied just 40% and eight shots compared to Bayer Leverkusen’s 11 shots.
Gerrard will need strikers Kent and Alfredo Morales to step up and challenge Bayer Leverkusen’s defence. Bayer Leverkusen’s defence allowed just three goals in their last three Europa League matches. Meanwhile, they scored eight times in those three fixtures. The big question is, can Bayer Leverkusen restart the Europa League strongly and hold off a Rangers team that just started their new campaign?
Kai Havertz to score anytime - BET NOW
Havertz has been linked to several teams in the last six months and after the Bundesliga restarted in May, proved he is a better striker than midfielder. He could lead the line on Thursday night against Rangers. Havertz is rumoured to be on Chelsea’s transfer wishlist, but with the Blues in need of a goalkeeper, may be at Bayer Leverkusen for another term. If he plays on Thursday, that could be an indication he is staying.
Over 2.5 goals scored - BET NOW
Bayer Leverkusen have seen their last three games in the Europa League knockout round end with over 2.5 goals scored. Rangers saw two of their last three games in the Europa League knockout round finish with over 2.5 goals scored. These sides should combine for more than 2.5 goals as Rangers must score at least three goals to overturn the deficit.
Bayer Leverkusen to score a penalty - BET NOW
Bayer Leverkusen have been awarded a penalty in two of their last three Europa League knockout matches. Both penalties were scored by Havertz as Bayer Leverkusen won both matches. Rangers should be aggressive as they need to score goals to win the game and overturn the tie. The defence should be active and potentially at risk of giving up a spot kick to a strong attacking Bayer Leverkusen.
Rangers are just in their second match since March. The Scottish Premiership did not return in May or June as other leagues around Europe did. The division took the step to cancel the campaign with Rangers finishing second. They did start the 2020-21 term last Saturday and may have slightly more form going into the game. That said, they didn’t play the best of opponents last weekend versus Aberdeen.
Gerrard’s team should challenge Bayer Leverkusen and could get an early goal to put a scare in the Germans. In the end, three goals will be too difficult to overcome, so expect Bayer Leverkusen to qualify in a game that sees Rangers attack from the start.
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BayArena will host the match between Bayer Leverkusen and Rangers on Thursday
No, it is not possible to live stream Bayer Leverkusen vs Rangers with any bookmaker.
The match between Bayer Leverkusen and Rangers kicks-off at 17:55 UK time on Thursday 6th August.